Moral had risen along with the sails as we hoisted the spinnaker and finally made a good course and speed that we could be proud of. Still miles from our competitors but we felt like we were back in the game, had the tools to get the job done and were on our way. I climbed the rig to confirm that all was well with the halyards and had a kings view of the ocean spread out before me.
Imagine our dismay then when it all came tumbling down around our ears. Sailing in the early evening in 18 to 20 knots, with Nandor at the helm at ease and in full control we heard a bang and the sail came tumbling down and was instantly churned to ribbons under the boat. Mainsail down, lifejackets on and we set to work recovering the pieces, pulling heavy wads of material over the lifelines in the same manner that fishermen have been hauling in their nets for centuries. Parts of the sodden mess remembered that it had once been a sail and took to life in the beams of our headlights, dancing like ghostly apparitions over the surface of the tumbling sea.
Wet, tired and frustrated by our loss, I nonetheless felt that we are gelling as a team as only crisis situations can do. We have another spinnaker and in the appropriate conditions will put it up and chase again but such an unexpected failure well within what could be expected of the material will make us ever more careful and will mean that we are more hesitant to take the foot off the brake. The teams ahead that are currently breaking the sound barrier have all suffered similar failures, but in training when they had time to respond, reinforce and come back ready. We will have to do the same, but the losses will be counted in miles on the racecourse.
“A little photo from the day’s adventures” photo: Spirit of Hungary – C.Colman